Brooklyn Aragon Wins National Institutes of Health Internship

Photo of Brooklyn Aragon

Brooklyn Aragon works in the Biochemistry Laboratory at Highlands University. Photo: Rick Loffredo/University Relations

Las Vegas, N.M. – Brooklyn Aragon, a New Mexico Highlands biochemistry student from Las Vegas, New Mexico, has received a competitive National Institutes of Health (NIH) paid biomedical internship for summer 2019 in Bethesda, Maryland.

Aragon is a sophomore who has earned a 4.0 GPA to date and is the first in her family to attend college.

“This internship will expose me to new equipment, lab techniques, mentors and ideas,” Aragon said. “It’s a very exciting opportunity that will give me that extra step up into the real world of biomedical research.”

Aragon said her high school didn’t offer chemistry, and she’s come a long way since she arrived at Highlands in 2017 intimidated by her first college-level chemistry class. Aragon credits all her science professors at Highlands for her success, with biochemistry professor Chris Stead standing out as the one who influenced her the most.

“Dr. Stead’s classes are both rigorous and relevant, and he ensures his students truly understand the concepts being taught. He has pushed me out of my comfort zone and as a result I am a smarter, stronger and harder working student. His classes made me fall in love with chemistry and I am forever grateful,” Aragon said.

Stead said Aragon has perseverance and tenacity.

“Brooklyn exemplifies a growth mindset and has the ability to make obstacles into challenges,” Stead said. “I would expect her to excel in this NIH internship because she has all the necessary attributes to succeed in a research environment.”

Outside the classroom, Aragon is a supplemental instruction leader (SIL) for the university’s Achieving in Research, Math and Science Center (ARMAS). She is an SIL for Stead’s general chemistry class.

Stead said, “As my supplemental instruction leader for general chemistry, Brooklyn has shown exceptional leadership while helping students to understand complex concepts during her sessions and office hours.”

Aragon said that ARMAS supplemental instruction leaders target traditionally difficult courses and help provide scheduled, out-of-class, peer-facilitated study sessions that help students succeed.

Aragon said she has accumulated many good memories at Highlands. “My fondest memory has to be the community we have here at Highlands. Everyone is struggling together to advance their education, but everyone is also pushing each other to grow and become better students and people. No matter where I am on campus, there are friendly faces, new people to meet, and amazing faculty guiding us along this college journey.”

Aragon, who is an orphan, said the supportive, caring environment at Highlands was especially important to her.

“By the age of 11, I lost both my parents to drug addiction. I was very lucky to have my grandmother, Mary, take me in. At Highlands, it feels like family because people truly want me to succeed and encouraged my resilience,” Aragon said.

Looking ahead, Aragon said her dream is to attend medical school, become a doctor, and return to Las Vegas to practice medicine. “Many people in Las Vegas do not have access to a primary care provider and I’d like to change that. It’s important for me to give back to this community.”